The Gwinnett Gladiators' roster for 2009-10 got a dose of talent and toughness with the announcement of forward Tom Zanoski's re-signing Friday.
Both parties needed little time to reach an agreement once Zanoski was sure he didn't want to play in Europe.
"He's an agitator and can score," Gwinnett head coach Jeff Pyle said. "I think he earned a lot of respect at the end of the year.
"He's a guy you want on your team. That's the first guy I went after."
Zanoski came to the Gladiators midway through the regular season in a trade with Dayton. He was a force to be reckoned with despite never quite getting to 100 percent with a series of injuries. But he one missed one game here and put up 21 points in 31 games.
As much of an impact as Zanoski had in the regular season, he was even bigger in the playoffs as Gwinnett tried to take down the mighty Florida Everblades. The Gladiators gave Florida a run for its money before eventually being eliminated in five games. Zanoski was by far Gwinnett's best producer in the series though, leading the team with eight points in five games. The next closest point total was three.
"I don't think he's even gotten close to as good as he's going to be," Pyle said. "Getting here halfway through the season, being injured all year long, this summer's only going to be good for him."
Zanoski said he allowed himself a full eight weeks to recover from the injuries after the season ended. He's just now resuming his ice and gym workouts. But the 25-year-old said he's finally healthy and excited about the upcoming season.
When Zanoski arrived in Gwinnett, he was coming off successive hamstring injuries that limited him to just six games all season.
"It was frustrating, mentally as well," Zanoski said.
He also labored through several more injuries once the hamstring was healed - though they were made known only after the season was over.
"I blocked a shot in Game 1 (of the playoffs) and injured my foot," Zanoski said. "I had it frozen for the next four games, but now everything's back where it should be."
Zanoski, who moved from his native Croatia to the Toronto area when he was 9, gave some thought to playing overseas.
"He could have gone to Europe," Pyle said. "But he's going to come in here healthy and he's going to do a great job. I look for him to get off to a good start and maybe be a call-up guy."
Zanoski has only played half of both his first two seasons as a pro. He left college early to play 42 games with Stockton in 2007-08 and then was hampered by the injuries last year.
"I had a great time in Gwinnett and they treated me really well," Zanoski said. "They took a chance on me, trading for me when I was coming off the injury.
"I still want to pursue opportunities in North America. I only played two half-seasons, so I didn't want to leave yet."